Dems go to opposite extreme on war funding

Guess who doesn’t want an election-season debate on the war? Nancy Pelosi has decided to push through a supplemental war-funding bill that will keep operations in Iraq going until 2009, without withdrawal timetables. That takes the war off the table in Congress for the September-October time frame:

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) is about to lead her party into a major showdown over Iraq funding by violating two Democratic campaign pledges in one fell swoop.

To the critics, whether anti-war activists or House Republicans, Pelosi has made her feelings clear: Get over it.

This week’s maneuvering over a $200 billion war spending bill has revealed Pelosi self-confidently playing what she believes — with increasing evidence — is a strong hand.

Strong enough that she is expected to break one promise — her 2006 pledge for a more open and inclusive committee process — by circumventing the powerful House Appropriations Committee on the Iraq bill.

And when the final Iraq bill reaches the president’s desk, any troop withdrawal conditions are likely to be gone from the legislation. That is another 2006 pledge that has fallen by the wayside.

The Politico piece my Martin Kady misses the one crucial point in its focus on process: the Democrats do not want a repeat of 2007’s debate on Iraq. At its height, it produced a declaration of defeat from Democratic leadership on the floor of the Senate, and it also produced the spectacle of Democrats and their allies calling a uniformed commander a traitor and a liar during his testimony to Congress. After events proved General David Petraeus correct, the Democrats have tried hard to avoid getting exposed as defeatists and hysterics again.

At that time, they proposed giving only 60-day funding at a time in order to keep the Iraq issue at the forefront of the political process. Now Pelosi & Co want to bury it. What does that tell us about the upcoming Congressional elections? The Democrats won their majority by getting moderates to run in conservative districts, where voters don’t like surrender and retreat. Their 2007 performance put those seats at risk, and the incumbents who know their vulnerability do not want to defend the defeatism of Democratic leadership, especially now that Iraq has made so much progress in the last few months.

The anti-war groups are putting their best face on this about-face. MoveOn says that Democrats have no choice but to capitulate on the war, despite having a majority, but they never explain why. The truth is that a precipitous withdrawal has never been a popular position, and it has grown even less so over the last year. Pelosi and Harry Reid want to quietly bury Iraq war funding now so that they can avoid exposure as defeatists in the final weeks before the fall elections.